Friday, October 5, 2012

One shade of grey

I've been working on a new type of handmade bead:

They're paper beads.  I've tried to make them before, but they were far less successful.  Turns out I was missing a crucial part of the processing: boiling.  This time I boiled strips of junk mail, then whisked them a bit in the craft blender (just a regular blender I got at the thrift store that I reserve for non-food blending), squeezed the water out of the pulp, mixed a dollop of the pulp with a bit of mod podge to bind, and formed them into beads.

It's pretty fun.  The trick is to manipulate them by squeezing and such that you get as much air and mod podgy liquid out as you shape the beads--there's this subtle transformation point when the texture becomes almost clay-like and you know they've passed their individual-clumps existence and they're ready to commit themselves to being a single object of a bead.

I had some packages of Rit powder on standby--it's great for dyeing paper very rich hues--but I really like the particular shade of grey that turned out naturally so I left it alone.  They dried for 3 days in front of my dehumidifier in the basement and they are hard as rocks.  And lightweight as...paper.

I'll definitely be experimenting with colors, shapes and sizes now that I've got the process down.

Also listed are some new items:
 A black necklace with dyed hemp beaded macrame strands...
 And some chandelier earrings with steel wire frames and a new style of polymer clay bead.
Again, I used the Sharpie on pre-baked clay.  I made a dotted line on the sides and pinched it together to form a pod-like creased edge.  The black Sharpie turns out purple after baking!  The other batch I made also had purple that I thought was black, but I figured I just had the wrong cap on the Sharpie. But this I know for a fact started out as a black pen.  Makes sense, as the black ink likely makes use of a concentrated purple dye. But that's just speculation.  I do wish I could have it stay black--maybe I'll try an off brand permanent marker and see what happens.


  1. Those paper beads sound fun to make! I love the color, it matches the gray skies we are having today.

    Your new pieces are wonderful!!!

  2. I really love the paper clay beads. A nice wasp nest grey! I'm looking forward to see your developments with them... and I just know there will be!

  3. What a great idea and I love the results of the paper clay. It reminds me of when I was teaching art and had the kiddos blending papers & dryer lint to make hand made paper. You make me want to try it again!

  4. such wonderful textural things, I want to touch the surfaces of your clay and paper beads. Love the black necklace as well, beautiful Victorian tribal gothic

  5. paper clay beads! they turned out so cool and I loved the necklace and earrings, too. just found your blog and having a great time looking at all your wonderful work.

  6. Hi there Richelle! It's Angie from the Ringo's Rat Tales blog. I wasn't sure if you'd get my reply to your comment (I'm a big idiot and still don't really know how this blogging stuff works!). Anyway, I loved your comment and this was my reply. If you're interested in sharing the story you wrote, feel free to email it to my personal address:

    Oh, and thanks for wishing me well...that's so thoughtful. I wish I could say I've bounced back from it all, but it's been the most painful loss I've ever experienced. And, even though it was 8 months ago, I still cry almost everyday, but the shock of this death has finally subsided and now it's just grief. Which, I'm told is a good thing, because this apparently "makes room" for the soul to grieve more thoroughly and that life will begin to normalize soon (whatever normal is...). I don't know if it works like that or not. I still want to remember him, but I don't want it to hurt this badly. If that makes any sense? You're so very kind to inquire...thank you!


    Hi Richelle, not sure if you'll get this reply, I'll try to find your website again to reply as well. I love this message to me. Thank you so much, I am so intrigued by the way you related to the photo. It made me smile. I would love to read the story sometime, if you're ever interested in sharing it! By the way, I LOVE my earrings!!! They were even cooler than I expected them to be! I wear them all the time. :)

  7. p.s. wow, you're jewelry is great! i need to check your etsy store again soon!

  8. Hi Angie--your icon is so cute!
    The story is published here:

    The description of the photo has the grandmother mock-strangling the grandfather, so the genders are reversed as you'll see, but it's more about the placement of you and your brother as figures in the photo, the expressions, tone/feeling, etc. Just hard to really convey how 'exact' in vibe the photo is to what I envisioned.

    I try to avoid making any comments to people after a death because I remember how inexact and unhelpful most comments were to me in such experiences, but one thing I sometimes say if I feel it's appropriate is "Process the shock." It sounds like you've got as good a handle on it all as possible, which I know probably seems insufficient.

    Not sure if you'll see this--I'll email you as well.

  9. I didn't want to wait until this evening to read your story. So I took a little break. Beautiful. So beautiful. Now I'm a weepy mess, though. So I gotta go and pull myself together. This story touches me deeply, in ways I can't begin to explain. Talk about "connections" and "coincidences"...I can't begin to relay the weird twilight zone moments I had as I was reading this.

    Thank you so much for sharing...